The future of baseball will arrive Sunday when a pair of rookies come to the forefront during Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at Arlington, Texas.
Atlanta Braves right-hander Ian Anderson is scheduled to start as he gets yet another chance in the playoffs to announce his arrival.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will go with right-hander Tony Gonsolin for multiple innings at some point, although it just might not be from the outset.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declined to name a starter for the series finale, although he did admit he would lean on Gonsolin for bulk innings at some point. Roberts essentially threw all of his ingredients on the cutting board, saying that he would even check on the availability of Clayton Kershaw for Game 7.
The Braves are aiming for their first World Series appearance since 1999, while the Dodgers are trying to get to the World Series for the third time in the past four seasons. They lost in 2017 to the Houston Astros and in 2018 to the Boston Red Sox.
The winner will take on the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays, who won their own Game 7 Saturday night in San Diego, beating the Houston Astros, 4-2.
Sunday's Game 7 will be the culmination of a classic series that has matched the Braves' brilliant young pitching and a relentless offense, against the Dodgers' own brilliant young pitching coupled with a power display that even a pitcher's park has been unable to hold.
Corey Seager has led the Dodgers' offense with five home runs and 11 RBIs, both records for a championship series in either league. The Dodgers' power game was missing early in the playoffs, but they now have 14 home runs in the NLCS.
Two years removed from elbow and hip surgeries, Seager has delivered at a superstar level.
"All it's about is doing what you can to help your team win," Seager said. "Whether it's moving over a runner, whether it's hitting a home run, making a defensive play, being a spark in the dugout, anything can help this team get going that you are more than welcome to do."
The Braves will try to avoid dwelling on the past few days. With a chance to advance in Game 5, they led in the sixth inning before the Dodgers salvaged their season with late home runs from Will Smith and Seager.
In Game 6, they were undone by a shaky first inning from one of their best starters. Yet they continue to display confidence and Anderson is a big reason why. He had just six starts in the regular season but has delivered 15 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs over three outings.
"We're in a good spot," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I like the guy we're going to pitch (Anderson), and the bullpen, everybody can pitch and is available (Sunday). We'll see what we do."
Seager thinks the Dodgers are best served by hitting the mental reset button.
"It's all about refocusing on Sunday," Seager said. "No matter what team wins (in Game 6), it doesn't matter if you don't win (Game 7). We have to focus on our stuff and we have to come (Sunday) and be ready to play a baseball game."
Said the rookie Anderson: "I'm a competitor and I think that you have to go out there and compete. Whether you punch them first or they punch you first, you have to find a way to stay in the fight and just compete as hard as you can and be willing to leave everything out there."
--Field Level Media
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